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Financial education would benefit lives more than all currently offered coursework combined

LOS ANGELES, March 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Results of a recent survey underscore how deeply Americans need education about managing their personal finances.

In this survey the National Financial Educators Council asked 2,409 people the question, “What high school-level course would benefit your life the most?” Respondents chose money management more often than math, science, and social studies combined:


  • 54.13% selected “Money Management (Personal Finance)”
  • 17.92% selected “Mathematics (Algebra, Geometry)”
  • 15.38% selected “Social Studies (History, Government)”
  • 12.62% selected “Science (Biology, Chemistry)”

The survey, which was conducted online, produced statistically significant results with a 99% confidence interval and less than 4% margin of error. The goal of the survey was to measure people’s opinions about the value of personal finance education relative to other coursework commonly offered by high schools.

Six different age groups were surveyed, with 400 or more respondents from each group (18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65+). All age groups selected ‘money management’ at least 50% of the time, with the lowest proportion (50.4%) among 25-34 year olds and the highest (59.1%) among 35-44 year olds.

Embracing Financial Literacy

The NFEC’s CEO, Vince Shorb, comments, “Schools should teach subjects that will benefit students’ lives the most; but funding is needed to do so. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s annual financial literacy report shows that the federal government invests just $230 million per year into financial literacy programming, while STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) subjects are funded at $3 billion per year. About 8% of graduates will land a STEM-based job, while 100% of graduates would benefit from a financial education and the financial service space represents over 7% of jobs.”

These financial literacy survey results are of interest because public high schools rarely – if ever – offer personal finance courses as part of their regular curriculum; and money management is largely absent from state standards.

The results of this survey among 18-24 year old respondents were similar to results of a previous survey of 18-24 year olds the NFEC conducted in March 2016, where 51.4% of the 1,101 young adults chose “money management” as the high school-level course they thought would be most beneficial to their personal lives. Results for this age group were nearly identical in this February 2017 survey, with 51% selecting money management.

This survey was conducted by the NFEC and collaborators as part of a research series aimed at examining various financial attitudes and behaviors. Later this month results of the national financial literacy test will be published that show students fail even basic personal finance exams. Later studies will seek to explore relationships between attitudes/behaviors and levels of financial capability.

The National Financial Educators Council is a financial education resource provider, industry advocate, and thought leader. The NFEC conducts surveys, studies, and research and hosts think tanks around topics related to financial education. The objective is to gather empirical data to uncover best practices to share with colleagues in the financial education industry

See the entire Financial Literacy Survey here.